Respiratory syncytial virus, RSV, is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms and typically lasts one to two weeks. While most kids recover, RSV can be dangerous for infants and toddlers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 58,000 children under the age of five will be hospitalized in the United States as a result of RSV.
Recently the CDC issued a health advisory warning of a spike in RSV cases throughout the south, including Florida. “RSV is a very common virus and most children will have RSV once or twice by the age of two,” explained Julie Weinberg, MD, Halifax Health Pediatric Hospitalist – Pediatric Acute Care. “However, over the past 6 – 8 weeks we have seen an increase in RSV cases in our pediatric emergency department.”
Dr. Weinberg also noted the spike in RSV cases are occurring outside of our normal RSV season of Fall/Winter. “Children one year and younger are the most vulnerable to RSV. Most cases start out mild, but by day 3-4-5, breathing can become more difficult and babies don’t have the reserves to be able to fight off the virus,” said Dr. Weinberg.
Symptoms of RSV include fever, runny nose, dry, hacking cough, wheezing, abnormally rapid breathing, and difficulty breathing. The virus spreads through the air from coughing and sneezing, and through direct contact.
You can help prevent your child from getting RSV by taking the following actions:
- Keeping persons who have cold symptoms away from your infant or child.
- Good hand washing in the best way to prevent RSV from spreading person to person.
- Toys should be washed and disinfected regularly in schools and daycare centers.
- Everyone loves babies, and we instinctively want to kiss them, but it’s best to avoid letting others kiss your baby to help prevent the spread of RSV.
- Not smoking in the home. Almost all children hospitalized with RSV come from a home where someone smokes.
As in any illness, you should call your child’s doctor whenever you are worried about your child. He or she can best decide with you whether the symptoms and behavior you describe suggest that your child should be seen. In general, doctors prefer to examine ill infants and children in person, as severity may be impossible to determine on the phone.
Halifax Health – Pediatric Care has six convenient locations. For more information, please visit Halifax Health Pediatric Care.
Halifax Health offers the area’s only level III Neonatal ICU, the area’s only child and adolescent behavioral services, and now the only Acute Care Pediatric Unit with 24-hour a day pediatrics specialists. For more information, please visit Halifax Health Pediatric Hospital Services.